Development of a digital signage platform in Ruby on Rails


"SINAPTIA's services empowered the business to close a deal with a major client—a partnership that's still enduring. They've demonstrated their ability to roll with the punches; they're an agile bunch that can adapt to swift changes in project scope. They're a skilled, professional team."

Robert Sellman

About OmniAlly

OmniAlly is a self-funded startup from Portland, Oregon. They provide digital signage software, hardware, and service support to their clients. You can see their devices in several hospitals, airports, and hotels around the USA.

The Challenge

When Robert, OmniAlly’s CEO, contacted us, he had a small prototype of a digital signage device built on a Raspberry Pi device connected to a TV through an RS232 cable. He was able, through the command line, to send commands to the TV and make it change the channel, the volume, mute/unmute, input source, and even turn it on/off.

With this prototype, he envisioned building an MVP of a platform for managing media (initially photos and videos) and being able to perform 2-way communications with the device, in order not only to send commands to it but also to get information back from it, such as knowing whether it was turned on/off, what channel it was in, what volume, etc.

To summarize, there were 3 initial challenges: building a platform for managing media, updating the existing prototype to be able to communicate with this platform, and building the communication layer to connect the two ends.

Over time, Robert challenged us with more complex problems, such as rebuilding the digital signage device prototype with more powerful hardware to work with the 2-way real-time communication platform.

The Solution

Given the requirements, we architectured the solution in 3 parts. For the platform for managing media, it was decided to develop a Ruby on Rails application. The prototype device, a Raspberry Pi with a bunch of Python scripts worked fine but had to be overhauled for communicating with the platform, which ended up being a WebSockets server that allowed 2-way communications.

"They're adaptive and organized. We have scrum and sprint meetings every week. They keep good track of roadmaps and new features that we're going to be rolling out."

Robert Sellman

The Outcome

The MVP for the 3 components was a complete success and Robert trusted us with what was coming next. We developed new features for the platform, such as the ability to build complex layouts for displaying several media formats with transitions, RSS, etc., rebuilt the prototype device with more powerful hardware to support this new set of features, and supported the OmniAlly team in building new devices and debugging new problems.

We can proudly say we have been a key technological partner to OmniAlly!

screenshot of the app


Ruby on Rails
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